Saturday, 8 March 2014
It is one year since this campaign came together. Today, various people across this country, in its numerous cities and towns, got together, congratulated, advised women and expressed their opinions about what needs to be done to better their “situation”. Many must have gathered in the national capital too, but we, somehow, stayed back in our bunkers, spread out across the country as a team, trying to analyse the amount of change or progress our campaigning has made on ground, in the society, among the people.
Over 136 acid attacks happened in past one year. Many more gang-rapes, rapes and other crimes against women were reported. Acid attacks left children, men and even animals mutilated, in some cases. We also met about 50 survivors of acid attacks during last one year; some of them surviving without any medical treatment since their attack, about 5-10 years ago.
The quantum of change seems nil, compared to the rampant abuse of girls, children and women in our society. A large section among us still believes these incidents are normal and should be just let happen, as the sufferers deserve what attackers do. Unbelievable, it may sound to some of us, but this is the response of the majority, across the country. Survivors of acid attacks and many more women sufferers of abusive marriages and relationships are living in isolation, without any hope of a better tomorrow.
As a team, we are looking at a long-term effect of our words and efforts, in terms of CHANGE. We are expanding as a circle. Gradually, but consistently, more and more artists, activists, film-makers, journalists, volunteers and social media friends are engaging with this campaign.
We did not step out and created hoopla in any city or town, because we did just that throughout last year, with whatever little capacity and support we could generate. We thank each one of you today, who have become fellow campaigners, and taken this cause forward in various regions and even abroad. A few of you have earned your own inspirations from these acid attack fighters we have brought together at Chhanv and taken out your own journeys. All the best to each one of you! Keep the quantum of CHANGE rising with each International Women's Day. But, this won't happen only by gathering together on March 8 and shouting out loud. Acceptance and compassion would work better with silence in the larger scheme of things.
Let us evolve to be better human beings. Just as we expect the various products and services to evolve and give us better experience. Like these phones and various software- continuously being updated for better user experience- we could evolve too, to give a better life-experience to the coming generation. Let us evolve as a safer society. The tendency to turn violent, and be mercilessly brutal at it, is horrifying and must be brought under control.
It is March 9. But, still, wish each one of you a wonderful Women's Day. May each day in future bring a new ray of hope in the lives of billions of women suffering across the world. May they gather the strength to defeat the wrong they are facing and stand taller than the abuse they have endured, for a larger good they believe in. May they see hope. May the women liberate, equally, and raise the collective character of humanity, as we witness it today.
Let us begin with stopping gruesome acid attacks.
The writer, Suneet, is a campaign coordinator